Predators Look to Avenge their December Meltdown Against the Stars

If there's ever a bulletin board type of game in early January, it's today's matchup for the Preds against the Stars.

Dec 23, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators players celebrate after a goal by
Dec 23, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators players celebrate after a goal by / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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The Nashville Predators still probably haven't gotten the sour taste out of their mouth from that December 23rd meltdown to the Dallas Stars in the final 15 seconds of regulation.

After holding a 2-1 lead entering the final 60 seconds, the Stars stormed back for two goals just 15 seconds apart. Head Coach Andrew Brunettecalled his team out by saying there were "passengers" out there.

The Stars have shown throughout the season that they're masters at making multi-goal comebacks, and the Predators on the flip side are awful at holding leads. A recipe for disaster in today's rematch, but also an opportunity to get some retribution.

Have the Preds Answered the Wake Up Call from Thursday's Ugly Loss?

Despite much of the success the Predators have enjoyed going back to mid-November, this team is still in a very precarious place. They've been showing some really bad habits that have stood out to Head Coach Andrew Brunette, most notably lack of effort and attention to detail.

You simply cannot let this linger into this game with the Stars on the road. Simply put, the Stars got outplayed by the Predators for much of the first meeting in Nashville. It didn't matter. You have to literally play until the final horn against this Stanley Cup caliber team, and the Predators didn't do that on December 23rd.

So first and foremost the message has to be clear for the Predators locker room; come out aggressive and set the tone, and then capitlize on scoring chances when they're available.

Secondly, the defense in front of Predators goaltending has to be significantly better than it was in the last game against the Calgary Flames. They gave up 22 high danger chances, and Juuse Saros got shredded in the process.

If the Flames can do that, think about what the Stars will do with a similarly terrible defensive showing? It will get ugly real fast on the road in Dallas.

Kevin Lankinen, who hasn't started since December 15, but has come in relief of Saros in two games since then. I have no idea what to expect from Lankinen against a feisty Stars team who is top-10 in Expected Goals %, being very strong at both even strength and on the power play.

I'm not particularly worried about the Predators mustering up offense of their own and scoring some goals against Dallas. My issue is getting into a scoring barrage back and forth, and the Predators not being able to keep up.

This is a look yourself in the mirror and see what you're made of type of game. No more "wake up calls". You're in the middle of the season now and can't be having these mental lapses if you're going to stay in the playoff race. The top tier teams, like Dallas, will expose you badly. The frauds will start fading, and the Predators can show they're not frauds by beating Dallas on the road on Saturday.